Sites in Mizoram, UP to get protected status

Sites from two necropolises – historical cities built around burial grounds in obeisance to the dead – in Mizoram’s Champhai district and Uttar Pradesh’s Sanauli in Baghpat district are set to be granted “protected site” status, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials said.

This includes four sites from Champhai district where menhirs, megaliths and rock engravings dating back to 15-18 AD have been excavated. The site in Sanauli dates back to 2000 BC, where a pre-Iron Age specimen of a chariot was dug up.

Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, once a site is granted protected site status, the area around it is developed with signages, better lighting and other facilities and is promoted for tourism.

The proposal for protected site status for the Champhai sites has been put forward by the ASI Aizawl circle, which has termed the findings “important cultural remains of pre-British era Mizoram”. The proposal is with the Union culture ministry.

The four sites in Champhai are at Lianpui, Lungfulian, Dungtlang and Farkawn and lie within a 100km radius of the district headquarters. These are being excavated around Vangchhia, one of the country’s largest necropolises discovered in 2015. Burial sites, water pavilions, terrace gardens and menhirs were excavated at Vangchhia, which is already a protected site. At Lianpui, 54 kms southeast of the headquarters, eight rows of 114 menhirs with carvings of humans, bovine heads, hornbills and fish, peculiar to Mizoram, have been dug up, apart from the remains of a pathway to Tiau river. At Lungfulian, 65 kms northeast of the headquarters, 10 megaliths and two boulders with engravings were found.

At Dungtlang, 55 kms southeast of the headquarters, menhirs with engravings have been found. At Farkawn, 90 kms southeast of the headquarters, four menhirs and a huge rock divided into three segments have been dug up. According to Sujeet Nayan, deputy superintending archaeologist of ASI Aizawl circle, what makes these sites unique is that some menhirs appear to have been brought from elsewhere and erected there. “Such pictographs and necropolises are rare in India. At these sites, emotions are expressed in carvings and motifs, and the life cycle of a chieftain’s bravery is celebrated,” Nayan said, adding more such sites in the Northeast needed attention. In Sanauli, 68 kms from Delhi, excavations by a 10-member team led by SK Manjul of the Institute of Archaeology had pointed to the existence of a warrior class in the Pre-Iron or Bronze Age in 2000-1800 BC.

First Published:
Jun 05, 2019 01:43 IST

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